Second mother wants cult therapy

Marin News/February 25, 2003
By Con Garretson

Another defendant in the Lucas Valley toddler malnutrition death case is hoping to enter a residential treatment program for former cult members.

The defense attorney for Deirdre Hart Wilson, the mother of five of the 13 children in the home, told a judge yesterday his client wants to attend a treatment program as part of her sentence.

The request follows a similar request last week from Mary Campbell, the mother of the deceased boy and five other of the abused children, who asked that she be allowed to go to the Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center as part of her pending criminal sentence.

Attorney Douglas Horngrad said outside court that Wilson wants to go to the same Albany, Ohio, facility as Campbell. Formal paperwork might be filed later this week in conjunction with a request for a bail hearing and a delay in Wilson's scheduled sentencing on Monday, he said.

Wilson wants to be treated by the same psychologists who, according to court papers filed Thursday, determined Campbell has "suffered psychological regression and dependence" and appears "ready to begin the therapeutic process necessary to rebuild her psychological stability."

Yesterday's developments give further credence to long-standing speculation by cult experts - heretofore denied by defense attorneys - that Wilson and Campbell were members of a cult led by Winifred Wright, who fathered malnutrition victim Ndigo Campisi-Nyah-Wright and the dozen other children.

Wright and his four original co-defendants had presented a united front during court proceedings since their February 2002 arrests at the Lucas Valley home they shared with the children.

However, Campbell and Wilson now appear to be distancing themselves from Wright, in both their requests for treatment and their combined opposition to the sharing of sentencing-related paperwork with Wright.

Court reports of Campbell and Wilson contain incriminating statements regarding Wright, a probation officer told Marin Superior Court Judge Terrence Boren.

Carol Bremner, Campbell, Wilson and Wright were indicted by a grand jury on second-degree murder, child endangerment and related charges after a three-month sheriff's investigation into Ndigo's November 2001 death. Charges against Bremner, who had two children with Wright, were dropped after she died of leukemia last summer. Less serious charges against a fourth woman, Kali Polk-Matthews, were dropped when the three remaining defendants accepted plea deals in December.

Campbell, Wilson and Wright each pleaded guilty to multiple counts of abusing or endangering the health of a child under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death. They face prison sentences ranging from 11 years, four months to 16 years, eight months.

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